Many hospitals are getting dangerously full treating COVID-19 cases. This map will show you if there are available beds near you
A deadly surge of COVID-19 cases is continuing across the United States. Over the last several weeks (even months, in some places), daily new cases have been regularly breaking records. Nationwide, daily deaths have reached historic peaks this week — 3,054 people died on Wednesday, more than any other day of the pandemic, more than on Sept. 11, 2001. It was one of the most deadly days in American history. With so many cases, so many critically ill people, and so many deaths, hospitals are becoming dangerously full in cities and counties all over the country.
Now, you can see how hospitals near you are doing as far as their capacity to admit patients, thanks to a tool from NPR.that uses information from the University of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project. On Monday, the federal government released some critical data tracking hospitalizations and how many intensive care unit (ICU) beds are available on a week-by-week basis. NPR used that data to create a new tool that allows anyone to enter their zip code and see the percentage of ICU beds that are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients at health centers near them.
The tool not only shows averages for every county, but also shows exact data (according to what’s been most recently released by the federal government) for individual hospitals. This can be especially useful for people who are sick and considering going to the emergency room for treatment — you can check ahead of time to see if medical centers near you even have space available. Yes, it’s horrifying that we have to see if hospitals have the capacity to treat us before we seek care, but it beats arriving at a medical center only to be sent home because there’s no room.
Another use for this tool is to see how strained hospitals and their staff are. According to NPR, having more than 20 percent of their beds occupied by COVID patients will put “extreme stress” on a facility. Many across the United States are at or above 50 percent, which experts say is downright terrifying.
“It means the hospital is overloaded. It means other services in that hospital are being delayed. The hospital becomes a nightmare,” the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s Ali Mokdad told NPR. The University of Minnesota’s data shows that 55 counties in the United States are at that point right now. After the holiday season later this month, with more Americans gathering, who knows how much worse it could get.
We can only hope that frightening data like this makes more people take the pandemic more seriously. We can relieve stress on hospitals by slowing the spread of the virus — and that means social distancing and masking at all times when in public and staying at home whenever possible.